Zero waste with kids…. Is that even possible?
I get a few Emails about that Zero Waste with kids is impossible, or just too hard to get close to Zero Waste.
Since I don’t have kids and not planning on having some, I can’t answer those questions.
But I know a few women doing great in combining a low waste/zero waste lifestyle with kids.
So I thought I ask a Zero Waste Power Woman and Mother to write an article about it to share with all of the families out there..
Let me introduce you to Jess from BabystepsToZeroWaste:
Living Zero Waste… with Kids
You decide to begin the journey towards a zero waste home. You imagine a clean pantry. Glass jars filled with beautiful ingredients. A fridge full of plastic-free produce. A minimalist living room, with a couple secondhand wooden toys strew on the floor…
And… then your fantasy comes crashing down. You have KIDS. A baby who NEVER sleeps. A job. A never ending pile of laundry. You are SO overwhelmed and busy with your current life, you can’t even fantasize about a zero waste home!
Never fear, your dream can become reality! Even with kids thrown in the mix!
When we first started transitioning to a low-waste household, I was overwhelmed too. I didn’t know where/how to shop. I was shy to bring my own containers. I had a 7 month old, a 2 year old and skeptical partner. So I focused on baby steps. With every success, we were motivated to do better! Within a few months, our trash output was so small, we up-cycled our garbage bin into a composter!
Having children along for the zero waste ride can present additional challenges! So how can you be a low-waste family and still stay sane?
Life with kids is hectic! Going zero waste cold turkey will feel very unmanageable for most parents. Set small, realistic goals.
Be a teacher
Kids are knowledge thirsty! Explain how landfills and composting works. Show them age appropriate pictures and videos. Explain that this is why we try to not generate garbage. If you encounter resistance, lead by example! Praise any efforts.
Be the garbage police
Together we examined our weekly trash and brainstormed how we could eliminate items.
It is a great opportunity for kids to learn how to sort waste. What are you throwing out? Can you do without it? It is in the right bin? My kids, now 2 and 4 years old, are sorting experts!
Be a facilitator
I noticed compostable things ending up in the trash. Why??? Well, the trash had a step peddle and the compost had a lid that needed to be manually opened.
Changing our compost bin to a bucket fixed the problem! So I made sure everything was easy. Clean cloth tissues and napkins within easy reach/eyesight, cloth diapers prepped and folded, labelled jars and reusable bags by the door etc… Once we got used to the change, it became habit and less effort.
Be time efficient
Buying ingredients (instead of packaged meals) means cooking from scratch. Time consuming, right?!? Now I cook big batches. A portion to eat, one for tomorrow and one to freeze. I do this for baked goods as well. A time saver and I have a ready made meals/snacks always available.
Another trick is to prep your veggies for the week. Chopped veggies are an easy snack or can be tossed in a stir fry for a quick meal.
Get kids involved
My kids like to help me cook, bake and clean. It’s not a time saver right now (kinda the opposite actually!) but involving them teaches important life skills
Holidays and special occasions require thinking outside the box. Instead of giving out loot bags at birthday parties, have guests decorate cookies to bring home. There are tons of fun ways to celebrate without the waste! By stepping away consumerism, we bring the focus back to the true meaning of the holidays
Even so, it can be hard for extended family to understand your zero waste wishes. Requesting no gifts did not go over well in our family! So now we suggest things our children need or request contributions towards a specific activity or experience.
Day care and school
When it comes to daycare or school, don’t be afraid to share your values with the teachers. Most care providers were happy to accommodate us and were even inspired to make changes in their classrooms!
You are navigating through this journey as a family unit. Living harmoniously means compromise. If you can’t eliminate, try to reduce. Reward their efforts (and yours!) by going to a restaurant or doing a fun family activity!
Ready to get your family on board?
Living a low-waste lifestyle will enrich your family life in so many ways! It has strengthened our ties to our community. We eat healthier and have more money to spend on activities and experiences. It’s totally worth the extra effort and I think you will find that kids are actually quite accepting and enthusiastic about most zero waste changes!
Now getting your skeptical partner on board….. that’s a whole other story!
Jess Morales is registered nurse, nature enthusiast and mother to two young children. Jess spent her 20s backpacking around the world, falling in love with our beautiful planet. After becoming a parent, she committed to reducing her family’s carbon footprint. By sharing their real life experience, she hopes to inspire other families! Follow Jess and her family as they shuffle towards a smaller footprint on Facebook and Instagram or visit the blog: babystepstozerowaste
If you have kids and striving towards a zero waste/low waste living too feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments.
If you have more questions ask them here or check her blog first (you might get some answers straight away) and then ask Jess directly on Instagram, FB or through her blog: babystepstozerowaste